Devblog 11th July 2017 - End Goal Document Part 1

    Discussion in 'Game News' started by schema, Jul 11, 2017.

    1. schema

      schema Cat God

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      Greetings, citizens ~


      A few months ago, we planned to release our End-Goals document but never really got around to make a public version. As announced in the previous post, this dev blog contains the 1st part of our “End Goals” document.


      End Goals Introduction
      Our “End Goals” document...is not a list of features. Although a simple feature list is useful to get an overview of what’s next, it is not a great way to show the public what our game is about and where we’re going with it. New feature ideas get added, changed or removed all the time which only makes it more important to not depend on them when we’re talking about the final product.

      Not to mention that as a player, you can only see what’s in the game right now and how that all ties together. You do not see what we want to achieve at the very end, making it impossible to give accurate feedback when the big picture is simply not there for you to see.


      When we talked about how to write this document, we simply put ourselves into a specific play role/play style, defining what we would like to be able to do in the finished game. Coming up with ideas was easy, but getting rid of just as many to form a solid, cohesive game was not. StarMade is after all, a sandbox game. A type of genre where you’re allowed to discover a complete world and do whatever you want.

      It’s unlikely that we’re going to change our end goals significantly, but the features leading up to it are subject to change. A destination often has multiple roads leading to it, which one we pick depends on our personal opinion and the community’s feedback on it.


      As for the document itself, we’ve divided it up into several player roles which coincidentally gives us some time to make a nicer public version of it as we can release it in parts. Of course at the end, we’ll bundle it up in a single thread so that you don’t have to piece it all together yourself.

      All of this is based on a base goal, which is purposely kept very simple:
      StarMade is a space sandbox game where you start with very little and work your way up to the top.
      You are put in a galaxy for you to explore. How you want to go about it and what your final role is going to be, is left to the player. The driving force behind it all is progression, without restricting creativity and freedom.



      The roles we will talk about are the following:
      ~ Builder
      ~ Explorer
      ~ Industrialist
      ~ Trader
      ~ Fighter
      ~ Imperialist

      Some of the roles of course overlap and/or have sub-roles, which will be reflected in the other parts of this document.​


      Builder
      Our first player role to be addressed is also the one with the most work put into it: the Builder. From all roles, this one is probably also the most realized in the game already.

      Starting from close to nothing, you’ll have to do some form of building first to at least travel where you want to go. While you’re doing that, you get to know what StarMade’s backbone has to offer. Mining, simple early game trading, basic ship building and travelling around the universe would all come to light in the first few hours. As soon as you have a functional ship, you can focus on anything that you’ve liked so far.

      If you, up till now, prefer building above anything else, you will most likely continue in that direction. Your ultimate goal is a never ending one, to make better and more creations. This on its own, is already a form of progression which is limited by your own player experience. However, this might not be enough for most players and we need a more controlled form of progression on the game’s side to help with that.

      We want to slowly open up this building aspect to the player, not only to make sure there’s still things left to explore later on...but also to make sure the player isn’t overwhelmed at the very start. Later, when you’re base of operations is well established, you slightly shift your focus from building to selling and marketing. Your goal isn’t necessarily to get rich, but to get known as a reliable ship builder that is capable of doing anything. Not only are you better at building now, but your ship/station producing speed is much faster after upgrading and maintaining your own shipyard(s) along the way.

      Several features, as well as redesigning or tweaking existing systems will make this vision a reality.

      Block Availability
      At the moment, all blocks can be easily bought or made in large quantities with only a few small steps. Every resource you need can be gathered in almost any star system which is concern when you try to get more progression into the game. Base blocks such as power, basic hull and thrusters still need to be easily crafted no matter where you are, yet more advanced systems that you don’t need from the start, such as effects and the future reactor chamber blocks, could definitely use some changes.

      By fine tuning the crafting recipes and universe resource allocation system, we can create an unique world where, as a builder, you’ll have to play differently every time you generate a new universe. If certain block resources are tied to specific locations, you won’t be able to immediately build any block in large quantities. Those resources could still be found anywhere, but just in small quantities to allow small scale experimentation and open your mind to new possible ways.

      The idea here is that the player will have to adapt to the resources they have at their base and fully explore the functional blocks they can create there before moving on.
      Block Progression
      Most decorative blocks should always be available and cheap to build, as they only function to make things look better and barely affect ship/station performance in any significant way.

      Rails, logic and other similar systems, are just like decoration when it comes to performance. These already provide a large amount of end-game content which can only be fully utilized by players that are experienced with it. There is no need to add additional progression here.

      Some functional blocks do need some extra depth to lengthen the amount of time needed to achieve this endgame build quality. The key could be in the balance between efficiency versus longevity. Longevity is where your ship can survive a decent amount of incoming damage and is still able to fight back afterwards. Efficiency is where you get the most statistical value out of your ship compared to its build cost and mass. Balancing these 2 out is a never ending task and depends on the ship’s purpose and its potential opponents. Right now we already have this in multiple ways, but it could be way more prominent by changing how some systems work.

      Rebalancing systems will also provide more defined roles for differently sized ships. Small ships, while they never should be as powerful as a considerably larger ship in a 1 vs 1 fight, would still be extremely useful when used in larger numbers. In addition to that, some weapon systems could benefit greatly depending on the ship type and role.
      Shipyards
      More immersion should be provided by private and public shipyards. It also gives access to creative mode and several build tools without breaking immersion of plopping down thousands of real blocks out of nowhere. The player should be made familiar with this feature as soon as possible, it’s why public shipyards and a proper UI are important. For this goal to be realized, several smaller features have to be implemented first in order to get a fully usable and reliable build method without relying on the “spawn whole ship anywhere” blueprint system.

      Shipyards also make it possible to build and maintain more than one ship. That combines nicely with the fleet mechanic to open up a lot more gameplay possibilities for the builder Suddenly all of your previously build ships get a different purpose if you put them together in a fleet. This would change your perspective and your way of building ships, adding even more progression for the player to explore.

      Shipyards would also be the gateway to open up trading for more than just a bunch of blocks, as instead, you will trade real ships or their designs for other people to make more. Before we can get to that stage though, the blueprint system would need to support this form of trading and security.

      Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done on shipyards to have them fully fulfil their role.
      Expandability
      As building is StarMade’s backbone, it’s important to keep that part interesting by expanding on it from time to time. Its user interface would need to allow for that, to avoid adding complexity to a system that is meant to be simple and easy to use.

      We could add more build tools, decorative blocks and smaller UI elements. All of that needs to be based on something the player already knows. If something entirely new is introduced, it should be applied on existing systems too where applicable to keep everything consistent with each other, streamlining the player experience even more.

      Preparing the UI for further expansion is a necessity even in an alpha stage, but non essential additions would be more useful for the beta stage or post release.​
      That was it for the builder part, we hope this gives you some more insight to our gameplay decisions and the road we’re taking. Stay tuned for the next part, where we will go more into roles that aren't as prominent yet in the current game version.​
      What’s next?
      Currently we’re refining our pre-release candidate and fixing its remaining bugs. If all goes well, we will be able to release this week and move on to the power update.

      If you’re interested of helping us out with testing, make sure to check out our pre-release post here. Remember to always use a separate installation for preview builds as they may potentially include game-breaking issues.

      If you come across anything new that doesn’t work or you believe you’ve located a new bug, report that here to help us out: Report a Bug (Release Candidate)


      As always, thank you for playing StarMade!

      ~ The Schine Team
       
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    2. aRottenKomquat

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      I look forward to reading about the Industrialist and Imperialist roles, I think that might be where I'd be the most comfortable.
       
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    3. Crimson-Artist

      Crimson-Artist Wiki Administrator

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      have you guys considered making certain kinds of blocks as loot drops only?

      they could be found only in loot boxes in POIs to encourage exploration and reward players who like to build.
       
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    4. Lecic

      Lecic Convicted Lancake Abuser

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      You mean exactly like how it is now, where small ships in "large" numbers (I put large in quotes because a dozen or two isn't really that large a number) weighing under 4000 mass each can annihilate pretty much anything up to at least half a million mass, or even higher, because you don't actually need very much to push out a few hundred thousand DPS.

      The fact that the devs don't seem to realize that small ships are already quite powerful, dare I say even overpowered, is extremely concerning. When is the last time any of you have actually played this game? I mean really played this game. Or even just asked the more hardcore PvPers for their opinions on the meta?
      I feel like I may be pretty much the only one of them left who even tries to talk to you guys about these sorts of things, and when I do it's usually just to ask Lancake when a massive balance breaking bug is going to get fixed. Pretty much every other PvPer I've talked to is either massively ignorant of the problems with the current game and not useful or has tried to get your attention on these problems in the past and been brushed off or ignored and has given up on trying to communicate with you all.

      Overall this dev blog has been pretty disappointing for the hype it was given. Who wrote this junk?
       
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    5. Master_Artificer

      Master_Artificer Press F to pay respects

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    6. Zerefette

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      There are still parts to come, after all it's only part 1 of the end game documents.
      Also so much salt, I must have a few drinks.
       
      #6 Zerefette, Jul 12, 2017
      Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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    7. therimmer96

      therimmer96 Cake Build Server Staff Elwyn Returnity Staff

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      I'm somewhat underwhelmed by this to be honest. (what a shock)

      Everything mentioned about the intention for this post has lead me to believe that the Game Design Documents would be released. Documents detailing how everything would work in the end. Not a wishlist for how things should feel.
      But which blocks? And how are you going to do it?

      We've been lead to believe that Schine has significant documentation on the end goals of the game. Bench stated that there's 23,000 words in 2015. Even if all of that got replaced, it had to have been replaced with something

      Where is it?

      The recent roadmap with all of the redacted nonsense that was completely pointless had tons of blocked out entries. Were they just filler to make it look like more was planned than there actually was?

      Schine is in the uncommon position to not be beholden to a larger company that dictates what you can and can't do. If you want to be, you can be completely transparent with the community. There's nothing stopping you from releasing everything.

      This post feels like it wasn't written to be transparent, or to tell the community about what's planned. Pretty much everything in this post has been said in some form over time, and while it's nice to have a singular post explaining it, it's nothing new. It feels like it was written to keep a community quiet without having to change anything.

      I know it's the first of several to come, but if it's any indication of what's to come, I'd rethink the approach. The power proposals, thrust proposal and capital ship proposals have all been good ways of schine showing the plans and letting the community discuss it with you. Please follow that kind of template. Explain the systems, how they'll work and interact with other systems. It shouldn't be too difficult to do if those documents really exist.
       
      #7 therimmer96, Jul 12, 2017
      Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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    8. schema

      schema Cat God

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      As pointed out in the blog, the builder role is the roles that is implemented the most in the game, so there isn't that much new in there. However, as ZereFette pointed out, this is just the first part, getting the introduction and the familiar stuff out of the way.
       
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    9. Zerefette

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      <--- Feels useful and praised(sort of).
       
    10. Lancake

      Lancake Head of Testing

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      Yes, exactly how it is right now. Plenty of what we mentioned is already in the game in some shape or form, or else we would be doing a rather bad job getting to our end goal.

      What makes you think we don't realize that? Shipyard related content, the feature that would mainly allow construction for fleets, is the tool to reach this end-game content where you're building fleets.
      I would definitely say it's overpowered right now, as anyone not using fleets would be at a severe disadvantage.

      Last time I really played the game was 3 years ago, not sure how relevant that is as we use the community to tell us what's wrong and what's not wrong. those hardcore PvPers seem to be hard to approach, and I already did a polling on the meta and what was unbalanced with a discord group in the past. Although initial feedback was great, it quickly died out as you know.

      Yes, you're the only one. Nothing I can do about that unfortunately.

      This public version is 95% me or so, the one only for Schine is mostly Schema collaborating with the rest of us that were there at the time he wrote it.

      -----

      This is a part of our "end goal document", it's not part of a concrete game design document. Nothing about this is concrete, which is the point. It's the only thing we can look back at to compare if some feature is side tracking us from the real end goal, and if so, how it would need to be changed (or even removed) to make it work.


      "the end goals of the game" would not be the "end goal document" then. If you're talking about all our game design documents, then I would say it's definitely more than 23 000 words...
      Seems you were given the wrong impression, it's an old tweet and I can't even see its content as the link is broken at this time of writing.

      They give you an idea of concrete features, without mentioning their inner details. This end goal document gives you...well, the end goal. What the game is supposed to be like near the end, also without mentioning details.


      Yeah, and we're unlikely to release any more game design document as that basically gives away all the surprise and sets up false expectations. These documents change all the time, some even get scrapped along the way as development progresses. If we give you everything, you will see it as a promise of what you'll have at the end which is totally not going to be what you'll get. It would put us in a position where we can simply not change or remove said features without turning the community against us.

      Your feeling is wrong then, it was written to give you an insight of where we're going with the game as mentioned in the first few paragraphs. Of course some, if not most of this, was said over time by Schine members...If it was not, then Schine would not have a clear direction of what to achieve and then I would be worried as a player.

      You would not believe how difficult it is to rewrite a game design document into a coherent "story" that explains it well for a player that has no idea what's in the other referenced game design documents.

      ---

      I hope that clears things up a bit. If not, ask away.
       
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    11. Oblivionburn

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      It's good to see this get addressed, and to get clarification on what the "final product" is intended to be. I also liked that it was explicitly stated "StarMade is a space sandbox game where you start with very little and work your way up to the top."... now we have something to reference when people seem confused about what StarMade is (or intended to be).

      Overall, it sounds excellent so far... looking forward to hearing about the rest of the roles :)
       
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    12. BJammin

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      This^
      Just because Schine has internal documentation of what their current plans are for the game, doesn't mean it's inherently static.

      Think of it this way:
      How many of you have gone about building something in StarMade, with a good idea of how you want it to turn out in the end? Chances are that along the way you made some changes that shifted the project a significant amount away from your original idea. Making a game is no different. People (devs especially) learn more as they work on a project. In the process of doing so, they gain new ideas about how to re-shape or expand their original plans. Frankly, the fact that Schine isn't coming out and stating outright everything they're going to do is a relief, as it means they're actively engaged in what they're doing and trying to improve/expand the game as they go; they're not stagnant in the area of creativity.

      This isn't to say that I think Schine should be completely reclusive. The prospect of getting an idea of where we're headed excites me just as much as the next guy. I'm just saying we should make a better effort to understand why Schine doesn't want to be completely transparent.
       
    13. StormWing0

      StormWing0 Leads the Storm

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      Quite frankly I'm not too worried about how this game is going unlike the last few games I've been in I'm not seeing the usual "It's Going Down In Flames" signs some of these forum posters are complaining about. XD That said you guys could do with just a super small dash more exposure but outside that flying under the radar is good just don't fly too low. :-p

      In any event I'd say shipyards need some major help because we can't even build additional turrets and other docked entities yet in them by loading up a BP on a docking points instead of building each turret from scratch. >.<
       
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    14. BusterCrabb

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      Citizens, in this usage, is a proper noun and should be capitalized.

      Actually all marketing revolves around FAB statements. Feature / Advantage/ Benefit. (i.e. Starmade has keyboard shortcuts/ They allow you to maintain focus on your plan rather than being distracted by menu navigation/ This saves you time and keeps you engaged in the play)
      Read the sales support materials for any Steam game and you'll find they break down into such things. If you aren't addressing these, you're just engaged in sloganeering.

      It's called an Elevator Pitch. It's really this simple, "Imagine the building style of Minecraft set in an Eve Online style space game." Honestly, you don't need to make it any harder on yourselves, or anyone else for that matter.

      You're kidding? You need to design for the Steam community, otherwise you'll never grow. Go outside and grab anyone. ANYONE. Ask them, "Hey, if you could play Minecraft in space, what would you do?" Just ask 30 people that, don't bother with the community or the devs. It's a lot of hard work to be an extrovert and ask people. A majority won't know what you are talking about. But after you explain it to them, you'll know better what you must do to increase your Steam sales.

      Top insurance salesmen own millions of dollars of insurance on themselves. You should start a new game from scratch and only play three days in a row for 20 min. Then delete and start over. Wash and repeat. That's all the progression most players ever experience and where you need improved development the most.
       
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    15. StormWing0

      StormWing0 Leads the Storm

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      Oh yes put us solely on Steam, here lets just cut off about half the playerbase who won't touch Steam with a 1000ft pole. Real smart marketing strategy. >.>
       
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    16. kiddan

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      Let's not mention getting loads of reviews on a game that isn't even in Beta. With core features changing and missing, it's best to not give Starmade heaps of exposure until said features are, for the most part, complete.
       
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    17. Comr4de

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      Yeah, because yall account for soooo much of the games audience lmao
       
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    18. Jaaskinal

      Jaaskinal ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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      I don't use steam for SM ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
       
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    19. Amadeus

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      Kind of tangential, but where is BenchBench ? I thought that he was the one that was designing the "Creative Direction" of the game? I've not seen him post in a very long time, let alone get on the dock.
       
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    20. Zephyrim

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      Hello there, I don't post very often/at all, but I do check up on Starmade's updates every week, and I wanted to voice my opinions about what I've read of your end goals so far.

      This is a problem on every level if you think about the current game. I'm going to assume that for every component of game-play you wish to keep the player as engaged as possible. You want us to both explore for minerals in order to give us a sense of progression, but you also want us to build upon our station so that we can manufacture and trade. In reality, it's just not fun to explore in the game. All the asteroids and planets are the same, really. Too small, too. There's no real variation, no real fun. On top of that, the game spoon feeds you the information you need - tells you exactly what asteroid X contains.

      I'm going to stop right there though, at this point I'm going to end up writing all too much about the flaws with that system. To sum it up, the scale, variety, and reward of asteroids and planets are pitiful. It's literally nothing more than a grind. Trading with other players is a way around this, but currently by the time you can manage to be competitive and efficient in terms of a real player market it becomes just as easy to do it yourself; trade is somewhat inaccessible for new players, and unnecessary for well established ones.

      I think this just about ruins the beginning of the game on a fundamental level, really. You're already working toward your final goal from square one. Meaning from the moment you set foot in a new server there is only one thing to do in the entire game, work toward a better ship.

      I'm seeing a lot of comparisons between this game, Minecraft, and Eve Online, so I'm going to make my own just to show you how much potential the game has.

      When you start out in Minecraft, you have options. Do you want to build yourself a cool base? Do you want to kill the Ender Dragon ASAP? Do you want to make over-complicated redstone machines or mob farms? You can even just gather resources endlessly. Or do you want to explore? They all feed in to each other, too. If you've built yourself a cool base you can use it to mess with redstone, or store all those resources. If you've explored enough you might have found the stronghold to kill the Ender Dragon.

      Conversely, in Starmade you're actually locked in to
      these roles. They're not roles, either! They're stages, a progression. While I will concede that my earlier example of Minecraft suffers slightly from something similar, it's not nearly the same as what Starmade does. To be an explorer, believe it or not, requires you to industrialize, because if your ship is destroyed you lose it. You can't actually trade as an explorer either, what are you going to sell, the coordinates of a planet with X or Y ore? That'd be a nice feature, but unfortunately planets aren't exactly scarce and you can see them all in your map for free. Everyone ends up as an industrialist at the start. While that would be okay while you get your bearings, (think Minecraft: surviving your first night) you can't transition to a true fighter, trader, or imperialist until you've ground out sufficient progress in the industrial field. Again, this would be okay if it weren't literally all the content for the industrial part of the game. Nobody tries to build a ship with rails and then upon finding they can't make rails yet goes and finds someone to buy them from someone, they just expand their factories. At least, if we're talking about a sizable ship.

      So let's look at a game where roles do exist: Eve Online. People mine, people trade, people fight, people have wars and conquer systems, and people "explore" though I use the term loosely because that's an activity within the game, not "exploration" in the typical sense. I guess what you could say is that instead of exploring in Eve people learn, or that learning and exploration are one and the same. What makes Eve so unique? Mostly that people actually use their brains, and use them to interact and compete with one another. Another thing Eve has though, is the skills system. This means not everyone can be everything, at least not efficiently. This needs to be in Starmade in one way or another, not the skills system, but somewhat cajoling people in to roles somehow. I myself can't wrap my head around how to do that unfortunately, but hopefully the team can.

      One last thing to take from Eve, people can be fighters/imperialists solely because of the insurance mechanic, and the variety of systems. We need more than just regular old antimatter canon blocks, I feel like we need tiers of them as well, that consume more power or have other engineering roadbumps tacked on to them. It's like EvE has this minigame of seeing how efficient you can design your ship/systems, and Starmade is close to that except it lacks the variety Eve has. I feel like separating the power system in to both how much power your ship can output and how many systems it can handle would help, then maybe allow for overclocking with the spare power/powergrid. That and again, adding different tiers and variations of certain blocks with their own downsides. This would also help with the whole argument of building bigger or better, and definitely weigh in the favor of building better. It would definitely have to be balanced with the crew system in mind though.

      I think the final barrier is the biggest though, it's communication between players. Communication has to be streamlined and flexible, but also realistic. In EvE you can start a private chat instantly with anyone whose name/avatar you've seen, start a contract with them, put a bounty on them, join their corp, etc. I think Starmade can provide all that, but then take it a step further by adding limits in. Maybe in order to contact people over long distances you need a structure like a stargate to transmit the signal. Then you can add in communications jamming etc.

      Anyway. If you've found my entire post useless, and maybe it is, I implore you to take one thing away: You know that stereotype that this game is basically Minecraft and Eve? Embrace it. Study how those games work, their features, and their ideas.

      One more thing. CCP (creators of Eve Online) hired three economists to help create their game's economy. If you want a living economy, you might consider hiring one yourself. I wish you could hire an expert spaceship builder to help you out in that department, but I think NASA researchers might be a tad bit out of the team's paygrade. You could hire an electrician or something like that to help you come up with systems though.

      I wish you the best of luck, and know that if anyone is criticizing you harshly it's because the game has great potential, and if anyone's ideas are bad or just impossible to realize then know they tried their best.
       
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